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THE  STORMY XORTH                                      51
was being transported on, a stretcher, and the cliffs were precip-
itous.
However, at the moment we were in a comfortable car, spinning
along a well-metalled road, and it was possible to re-enact the
drama of Gunga-Din. Imagine a jagged cliff, its base lashed by a
yellow river, and across the river a rambling shell-pocked fortress.
This is the Fort of Chak-Darra, which had been invested by the
Lashkars. Gunga-Din was attached to the picquet which was
stationed on the heights of the cliff above and how any man, even
the hero of a Kipling ballad, could scramble down those heights
under shell-fire, was a mystery. Still, there it all was—the fort, the
river, the water-hole, and every now and then we passed replicas
of Gunga-Din5 tramping down the road, magnificent types, with
fierce eyes and aquiline features. In my present condition I felt
that any personal encounter with these warriors would begin, and
end, with.. /You're a better man than I am, Gunga-Din.5
"Twenty-five years ago,' said my companion, a British resident
officer of long experience, cwe shouldn't have been able to come
down this road without an armed guard. We'd have been ducking
our heads half the time.   To-day, you could walk down these
roads, at any rate in daylight, with nothing more than an um-
brella, without coining to any harm. Twenty-five years ago you'd
have seen nothing but misery and starvation.   To-day—well,
look at 'em.   And there are half a million in this State, solid,
united and prosperous. Why ?  Sheer personality. The old WalTs
a genius.   Hens an extraordinary mixture of Saint Francis and
Machiavelli.  He began with a tremendous advantage, because he
was the grandson of the Akoond of Swat who was a great religious
figure.   He's exploited that advantage to the utmost.5
'It all sounds rather irregular,' I suggested.
'Well, isn't this part of the country faintly irregular itself ?*
The irony of his comment was justified.   Nevertheless, I found
myself thinking how extremely difficult it would be to explain the
whys and wherefores of this situation to an audience of those
enlightened liberals at home who are so convinced that we have
only to march out of India for the whole country to blossom over-
night with the benefits of representative democratic institutions.
Here was a land of ex-brigands, dominated by a religious